12 hours is a long time to be stuck in the car.
But we've made the drive between Portland and Salt Lake City 13 times now, and the girls are older and better at keeping themselves busy.
We have two portable DVD players, which surprisingly don't get as much use as they did a few years ago (although it appears that both Lexi and Ellie may have been utilizing them when I took the picture). We also have the VCR in the car, although it, too, is mostly ignored.
Decades ago, my mom started a family road trip tradition of handing out "100-mile treats", and I've kept the tradition alive, although my mom's treats were actual, edible treats, while mine tend to be things like markers, books, and movies. Hers were probably cheaper, but mine keep kids occupied for longer.
We always leave around 4am, and Chris drives while the girls and I snooze. We switch sometime after breakfast, once we've stopped at one of the many gas stations we've become all too familiar with over the course of the last six years. The hands-down best one is the Boise Stage Stop, on the Utah side of Boise. Just in case anyone was wondering.
While driving, we play the Alphabet Game, I Spy, and 20 Questions. We listen to music, podcasts (Radiolab, Freakonomics, Wait Wait Don't Tell Me, and This American Life are our favorites), and the girls singing. Ellie sings songs she makes up, usually about such song-worthy subjects as the sun shining through the window or my sister's dogs. Vicki and Lexi sing camp songs.
In past years, I've dreaded the drive. It was long, it was boring, and the kids were squished and unhappy. But now that we have a bigger car, older kids, and more life experience, I've decided it's actually kind of fun. Too often in this house we're trying to find our own space and, essentially, get away from each other, but when we're forced to spend time in close quarters, my kids have learned that they can actually have a good time together. They enjoy each other more, and Chris and I enjoy them.
And now I realize that these days, like the objects in the mirror, the destination is actually closer than it appears.